Nope! An exclamation mark is not a trademark, EU court says

1st October 2009, Comments 0 comments

The German fashion house Joop! had hoped to win the right to trademark a simple exclamation mark.

Luxembourg -- An exclamation mark cannot be registered as a trademark, a European court ruled Wednesday, dashing the hopes of German fashion house Joop! which wants the rights to two versions of the simple punctuation mark.

"The figurative signs in question have no distinctive character," the court of first instance said in its ruling.

In 2006 JOOP! filed two applications for registration of trademarks at the EU's trademark office (OHIM).

One was for a simple exclamation mark '!' the other was for an exclamation mark in a rectangular frame.

The trademark office rejected the applications ruling that the logo was no more than "an eye-catching gimmick" rather than an indication of the company involved.

That ruling led Joop! -- which makes clothes, jewellery and related goods -- to take the matter to the European court.

The court in Luxembourg ruled that "a consumer having a high degree of attention, will not be in a position to infer the origin of the goods designated by relying on a mere exclamation mark."

The addition of a rectangular frame just gives the mark "the appearance of a label," it added

The EU court did hold out one scintilla of hope for Joop!, saying that it is possible for the mark to acquire "distinctive character in the course of its use as a part of the applicant's principal trade mark".

However the judgement added that this was not the case as the only evidence for this which Joop! submitted were "three photos of jeans to which a piece of cloth, or a label, is attached showing an exclamation mark."

Joop! can appeal the decision but for now the court has brought a full stop to the exclamation mark trademark.


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